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Originally published September 5, 2014 at 8:02 PM | Page modified September 13, 2014 at 7:58 AM

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Homebuilders focus on catering to family pets

Real-estate officials say building homes designed to cater to pets is a new concept, but that remodels for pet owners have been available for some time.


The Associated Press

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A growing number of newly built homes are set apart by their amenities — for dogs.

California-based Standard Pacific Homes is building and selling homes in 27 of its 190 developments nationwide that are believed to be the first to offer a pet suite as an option in every one.

The most lavish suite is a 170-square-foot pet paradise with a step-in wash station, handheld sprayer and leash lead; tile walls and floors; a designated drying area with a commercial-size pet dryer; a water station; automated feeders; a large bunk-style bed; cabinets for toys, treats and food; a stackable washer and dryer; a French door that opens to a puppy run; and a flat-screen TV.

Standard Pacific began offering pet suites after conducting livability studies with homeowners. Pets were a constant theme, says Jeffrey Lake, vice president and national director of architecture for Standard Pacific.

“Devotion to pets is second-to-none,” he says. “They are family.”

The American Pet Products Association reports that 68 percent of Americans own pets and contribute to an industry worth more than $55 billion annually.

Real-estate officials say building homes designed to cater to pets is a new concept, but that remodels for pet owners have been available for some time.

Adam Cowherd Construction in Ozark, Mo., installs pet-friendly additions to homes. Cowherd said he recently finished a job where there was an open shelf on the end of a kitchen island to hold pet bowls.

“Owners want it uniquely functional, very contemporary and something that catches the eye,” Cowherd says.

However, only once in the last 10 years has he been asked to build a whole room for a pet.

Melanie Dean lives with her family near Dallas in a Standard Pacific home with a pet package for their dog, Lola.

Lola’s room “makes life much easier,” Dean says. “We don’t have to use the kitchen sink to wash yucky stuff anymore.”

Standard Pacific Homes’ newest community, called Avignon at Blackstone in Brea, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, features homes that start at $1.3 million. The pet-spa option adds $35,000 to the price, Lake says.

Only the largest suite is available in Brea, but in some of the builder’s other communities, there are smaller sizes and prices, starting at 60 square feet for $8,000, he says.

At some of Standard Pacific Homes’ model-home grand openings, potential buyers brought their dogs to look at the homes, says Danielle Tocco, the company’s director of communications.

Pet adoptions were also held at some model openings, in case somebody didn’t have a dog but wanted one, she says.

Mollie Carmichael, principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, Calif., says around 70 percent of her clients have pets.

For cat owners, pet-friendly features can be rearranged and swapped out, like a scratching post for the dryer. And if no one is using the bath, Lake says it’s a handy spot to store sporting equipment, like golf clubs.

Those looking to sell their homes may find their pet additions to be a benefit.

Laundry rooms and mud rooms toward the back of homes are popular, says Amy Bohutinsky, chief marketing officer at Seattle-based Zillow. Pet washrooms can also be used as multipurpose mud rooms, which may attract buyers.



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